Cartoon in Globe about police shootings sparks controversy

Mike Luckovich's cartoon as it appeared in Monday's Boston Globe. Photo by WGBH News.
Mike Luckovich’s cartoon as it appeared in Monday’s Boston Globe. Photo by WGBH News.

Update: The Globe has published a collection of letters in opposition to the cartoon.

Officials with the Boston Police Department are upset over a tough cartoon about police shootings of black men that appeared on the opinion pages of Monday’s Boston Globe. But the Globe’s editorial-page editor is standing by it. And the president of the local NAACP defends the cartoon as a satirical comment on a tragic reality.

The cartoon, by Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a Pulitzer Prize winner whose work is nationally syndicated, depicts a white police officer. In one frame, labeled “For White People,” he is seen holding a piece of paper that says “Miranda Rights.” In the other, “For Black People,” a piece of paper says “Last Rites.”

Read the rest at WGBHNews.org.

At WRKO, McPhee replaces Manning

I don’t see how this move makes sense, but WRKO Radio (AM 680) has ousted longtime Republican political consultant Charley Manning from its 1-to-3 p.m. slot and replaced him with Boston Herald columnist Michele McPhee — who, in turn, had been dropped recently by ‘RKO’s rival, WTKK (96.9 FM).

Like many folks in the media and political community here, I consider Manning to be a friend, so it’s hard for me to be entirely unbiased. I was also a guest on his show recently. But it strikes me that Manning got little in the way of marketing or production assistance. Given that, it’s no surprise that his ratings lagged.

WTKK takes a step in the right direction

Braude and Eagan
Braude and Eagan

Boston Herald reporter Jay Fitzgerald has some very good news: WTKK (96.9 FM) is moving Jim Braude and Margery Eagan’s mid-day talk show to morning drive, where it will now be heard Monday to Friday from 7 to 10 a.m. Aging has-been Don Imus’ syndicated program will be relegated to the decidedly unattractive 5-to-7 a.m. slot.

In making the move, WTKK rectifies a mistake that goes back to its failed attempt to lure Howie Carr from WRKO (AM 680) for morning drive. Carr wanted to come over, but he turned out to have the most restrictive contract since Curt Flood; indeed, he was whining about it as recently as yesterday.

Stuck with no Howie, ‘TKK took back Imus, who was returning to the airwaves following his penance for referring to African-American female basketball players as “nappy-headed hos.”

Naturally, a lot of attention will be focused on the duel between Eagan and Braude’s program and ‘RKO’s morning-drive show hosted by Tom Finneran and Todd Feinburg. That shouldn’t be much of a contest. Braude and Eagan are naturals. Finneran has never gotten comfortable behind the microphone, and Feinburg is all plodding, ultraconservative earnestness.

The far more interesting question is whether this is the first of several shoes to drop at ‘TKK. It’s hard to read the tea leaves, but the station has made a statement: Its signature program is now a morning talk show hosted by a liberal, Braude, and a moderate, Eagan, both of whom bring a light touch to the proceedings and are respectful toward and engaging with callers.

Where does that leave WTKK’s right-wing twins, yipping ninny Michael Graham and hatemongering afternoon host Jay Severin?

For the moment, they appear to be OK. Graham’s actually getting an extra hour. As for Severin, maybe I’m parsing this too finely, but I do find it interesting that he’s losing a drive-time hour (6 to 7 p.m.) and gaining a non-drive hour (2 to 3 p.m.). Michele McPhee is moving up a bit, from 6 to 10 p.m., which could be seen as an attempt to expose her to more listeners.

More than anything, Eagan and Braude’s move up is step toward civility on the airwaves — rare at any time, and something we ought to celebrate.

The wind at Obama’s back

The following Michele McPhee quote — uttered within the last five minutes — is guaranteed 95 percent word-for-word:

The last time he [Obama] had a crowd this big, he blew his nose. And it was nasty, folks. What’s he going to do this time? Is there going to be flatulence on the stage? And are people going to cheer?

Simply amazing.

Piercing talk radio

Charlie Pierce is on a talk-radio rampage. Last month he went after WTKK (96.9 FM), and specifically Don Imus, Michael Graham, Jay Severin, Laura Ingraham and Michele McPhee, whom he doesn’t actually name, referring to her only as “a woman who sounds like she’s shouting her program off the back porch of a three-decker in Revere.”

Now he’s back, targeting Tom Finneran of WRKO (AM 680) as host of “one of the lamest shows in the history of the electric radio device.”

I can’t say I disagree, except to note that McPhee doesn’t actually shout. It only seems that way.

Yes, McPhee is leaving the Herald

Boston magazine’s Joe Keohane confirms rumors that crime reporter Michele McPhee is leaving the Boston Herald, and reports that she’s taken a full-time job at WTKK Radio (96.9 FM).

Given that McPhee just lost her 10 a.m.-to-noon slot in the Imus shuffle, it would seem like a good bet that she’s moving to evenings. Intriguing, given that talk stations generally fill the post-drive-time evening hours with cheap syndicated programming.

Wednesday morning update: The Herald’s Jessica Heslam confirms that McPhee will be on WTKK from 7 to 10 p.m. each weekday. We’ll see how that works out. As a talk-radio talent, McPhee is still pretty raw. And she’s chosen to thumb her nose at Howie Carr’s First Rule of Talk Radio: Never, ever give up the newspaper gig, because you just don’t know what will happen.

Is McPhee parting ways with the Herald?

On a day when publisher Pat Purcell is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the birth of the modern Boston Herald comes word that one of the paper’s more recognizable bylines may soon be departing. The Phoenix’s Adam Reilly writes that crime reporter Michele McPhee is rumored to be leaving.

Oddly enough, the McPhee rumors come at exactly the same time that her 10 a.m.-to-noon program on WTKK (96.9 FM) has been displaced by Michael Graham, who was moved out of the morning drive-time slot to make way for the new Imus show. Perhaps McPhee will pop up elsewhere on the station. Stay tuned.

And speaking of Imus, the Herald’s Jessica Heslam reports that I-buddy Mike Barnicle will be doing local commentaries during the show on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Gee, the excitement just never ends, does it?

Why is McPhee sorry?

If the Boston Herald is going to report on Michele McPhee’s on-air apology for seeming to draw a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia, shouldn’t the paper also report what she was apologizing for?

On Thursday, the Boston Globe’s “Names” column included this item on McPhee:

WTKK apologized yesterday for a comment by Michele McPhee that seemed to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. McPhee, the brassy Boston Herald reporter who hosts a daily, two-hour talk show on 96.9 FM, was talking about the trend in the fashion industry toward skinny models. After saying that the industry is largely dominated by gay men, McPhee said: “And who do homosexual men like? Little boys.” Asked about the comment later, McPhee declined to talk to us. But a station official then issued the following statement: “Michele’s comments were made in the context of a fashion industry that designs women’s clothes for atypical body types. She regrets if her remarks were taken to mean anything else, as no other meaning was intended.”

Globe item prompted some further ruminations by John Gonzalez of Boston Magazine.

The Herald finally weighed in today. But though Herald reporter Jessica Heslam quotes McPhee’s apology at length, we never quite learn why she’s sorry.

Heslam does write, “Station officials have refused to release an audiotape of the comment in question.” But surely McPhee could have confirmed the quote reported by the Globe for her fellow Herald staffer. And failing that, the Herald could have have reproduced what McPhee had “reportedly” said. It’s not like she was denying it.